Five Helpful Features Found on the Apple Watch

Do you currently wear a smartwatch? I have worn multiple versions of Fitbit before switching over to an Apple Watch recently. Those different watches have covered a span of 12-years. Collecting and tracking data on my Fitbit was fun and motivational. Even more so after seeing my dashboard numbers surpass 20 million steps and 40,000 flights of stairs climbed during part of that time.

During the past month, however, I decided to switch over to an Apple Watch because of their platform and ecosystem. The design and innovation of Apple Watch 5 series compared to what I was wearing was comparable to getting called up to the big leagues from Triple A. Now you have Apple Watch 6 series with even more features like an altimeter, blood oxygen sensor, sleep tracking, HRV, and new workout feature.

Here is a quick look at just a few of the many cool features on the Apple Watch 5 Series (and HRV on Series 6).

Apple Watch Activity Tracker

One of the best features on the Apple Watch is the activity tracker feature. This, depending on your choice of watch faces, can be front and center on the watch. There are three activity rings that one tries to close each day: MOVE, EXERCISE & STAND.

Move is as you would expect, any movement is recorded such as daily steps and stairs. In Moves you have a daily calorie goal that you try to pass. Next, is Exercise where you set a daily exercise time like 30 or 60 minutes as examples. The third and final ring is Stand. There are message pop-ups to remind you to get up and stand more throughout your day. The idea is to stand for a portion of each hour during a 12-hour day. Throughout the day you see more of the ring fill with a specific color (red/green/blue) as you move, exercise and stand more throughout your day.

This can get potentially downloaded to Apple Health which if you’re a data geek like me – you enjoy recording, tracking and analyzing your exercise data. After 180 days of wearing the Apple Watch, a “Trends” feature goes live with additional insight in each of those three areas, move, exercise and stand.

The Apple Watch VO2 Max Feature

A second informative feature is the ability to obtain an estimated maximal oxygen uptake. Know in the science world as simply VO2 max. This is the maximal amount of oxygen a person can uptake and utilize per minute of intense exercise. It’s measured in ml/kg/min. and here are the average values for VO2 max. Keep in mind world class cross-country skiers have topped 95 ml/kg/min.


An average sedentary male about – 35 to 40 ml/kg/min
An average sedentary female about – 27 to 30 ml/kg/min


There is also a formula for you to calculate your VO2 max number manually using 15 x Max. HR / Resting HR = VO2 max. In my case, 15 x 165 / 52 = 47.5 ml/kg/min., and when my Apple Watch tested me the first time it came out to 47, so pretty close. It is well-known in the sports and fitness world that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) will elicit the best results when someone is trying to increase VO2 max levels.

blank

Ability to Record & Track HRV: Heart Rate Variability

Heart rate variability (HRV) is basically the variation in the time interval between heartbeats. The greater the HRV, the more ready the body is to perform and the nervous system is considered “balanced.” The system responsible for this is the autonomic nervous system. HRV should not be confused with heart rate. They are different. Heart rate is measured in beats per minute while HRV is the number of milliseconds in between beats. It is a good overall indicator of health and well-being. Things like stress, lack of recovery between workouts and inadequate amount of sleep will affect HRV. HRV can also be used to predict if someone has a predisposition to a potential heart attack. According to the training and recovery product, Whoop, “the middle 50 percent of 20-25 year olds usually have an average HRV in the 55-105 range, while 60-65 year olds tend to be between 25-45.”

Apps Now Accessible Right From Your Wrist

Personally, to have access to a particular workout app, such as the Jefit app, now available on my wrist, lets me put down the phone for workouts. Not worrying about keeping track of where my phone is during workouts is great. The Apple Watch 5 Series model features 32GB of internal storage for music, apps, and other content. The different features mentioned in this article are just a small sample size found on the Apple Watch. There are also items like a just breath pop-up that has you relax and focus on your breath for a short period to check your heart rate. Having this type innovative technology on your wrist will only increase the chances of building healthy habits. In addition, it should also help people increase their activity level as they work towards achieving their exercise goals. Stay Strong!

blank

Five Proven Exercise Strategies to Improve Mood and Anxiety

blank

Packaging the health benefits of exercise into a bottle or pill would be comparable to finding the Holy Grail. Though that won’t happen any time soon, you can still take advantage of what exercise has to offer. According to a study published in the Lancet Psychiatry, people report an average of 3.5 days of poor mental health in a given month. The amazing thing is we already know that there are exercise strategies for improving mood and anxiety. More of us just need to take advantage of doing these types of exercise on a regular basis.

The good news regarding this topic is any form exercise – from walking to housework – will reduce that number by an average of 1.5 days a month. Playing any type of team sport, in addition to aerobic exercise, and strength training seem to have the biggest affect on mood; with reports of these activities reducing the number of mental health days by 20 percent.

Amount of Exercise Needed

Individuals who exercise for 20 to 60 minutes a day, three to five days a week, receive the most benefit, compared with those who exercise either less or more. In fact, people who exercised 23 times a month and for longer than 90 minutes per workout, actually had worse mental health compared to those who exercised less often or for shorter periods of time, as noted in the study.

The following list includes five different activities that are proven exercise strategies that will improve mood and decrease anxiety. The goal is to get more of people doing some type of daily activity. Only 23 percent of Americans, over 18 years old, exercise on a regular basis. Meaning, they perform both cardio and strength training during the week, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Walking is a man’s best medicine.”

Hippocrates

Manageable Exercise Strategies to Improve Mood: Walking & Hiking

These are grouped together for no particular reason other than hiking is a more challenging progression of walking. Both are great for reducing stress and improving mood. This is especially true if you happen to be walking or hiking in the forest. The Japanese actually have a name for their strolls in the forest, they call it “Shinrinyoku.” They regard their walks or hikes in the forest as being similar to natural aromatherapy.

Newer research seems to reinforce the idea that spending time out in nature can be good for your mental health. A 2015 study published in the journal Landscape and Urban Planning, as an example, discovered that when young adults went on a 50-minute walk out in nature, they felt less anxious and had improved memory function.

In a study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, research scientists found a single bout of exercise – walking for 30-minutes – could instantly improve the mood of someone suffering from a major depressive order. Some scientists believe the reason for this is more neurobiological than anything.

“Walking and hiking works on stress by increasing arousal and energy levels and secondarily by reducing tension. The energy boost is immediate, while the tension reduction reveals itself later and over time. The enhanced energy enables you to better cope with stress, so that you are less likely to become tense in the first place.”

Running is a Big Stress Buster

Aerobic exercise, such as running, can produce positive changes in mood at least on a short-term basis across both young and older adults. Running 30-minutes during a week for three weeks has been shown to boost sleep quality, mood and concentration during the day according to a study in the Journal of Adolescent Health. Additional research showed a positive affect on trained runners who ran on a treadmill compared to untrained subjects; moderate-intensity running versus high-intensity running was shown to be have the best impact on “mood states.”

The mental benefits of running can be especially powerful for people who suffer from high anxiety and even depression. In a 2006 review published in the Journal of Psychiatry & Neuroscience, researchers found evidence that exercise, like running, can work in a way that is similar to how antidepressants work.

Yoga Benefits

You have probably heard before how important your breath is, especially nasal breathing. No other activity focuses more on breath than meditation and yoga. The simple act of sitting or lying supine for even a few minutes, focusing on your breath, can make an impact on both mood and stress levels. Asanas work on stretching, lengthening, balancing and releasing stress in the muscles. These various postures can help release built-up muscle tension and stiffness in the body.

According Harvard Medical School, “by reducing perceived stress and anxiety, yoga appears to modulate stress response systems. This, in turn, decreases physiological arousal — for example, reducing heart rate, lowering blood pressure, and easing respiration. There is evidence that yoga also increases heart rate variability, an indicator of the body’s ability to respond to stress.

Strength Training Goes a Long Way

We know regular bouts of strength training can benefit our muscles, connective tissue and bones. The affects of regular training can go well beyond that. For instance, JAMA Psychiatry, reported “people with mild to moderate depression who performed resistance training two or more days a week saw “significant” reductions in their symptoms, compared with people who did not.” The research looked at 33 randomized clinical trials involving more than 1,800 subjects, and the findings “suggested that resistance exercises may be even more beneficial for those with more severe depressive symptoms.”

Research published in American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine (2010) reviewed seven resistance training studies to determine if training could be used as an intervention for people with anxiety. Their review on this topic demonstrated that resistance training is in fact a meaningful intervention for people suffering from anxiety. Two of the seven studies compared the effects of high-intensity resistance training (80% of 1-RM) to moderate-intensity (50%-60% of 1-RM). The results indicated that anxiety was reduced more with moderate-intensity resistance training. Stay Strong with Jefit.

References

Yanker, G., Burton, K., Walking Medicine. McGraw-Hill Publishing, 1990.

O’Connor, P.J., Herring, M.P. and Carvalho, A. Mental health benefits of strength training in adults. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, 4(5), 377-396., 2010.

blank